David Lewis Paget
The Pitiless Knight - Poem by David Lewis Paget
‘What do you play with my mistress here
In the dark before the dawn,
How did you come by the chamber key,
Is the locksmith now foresworn?
I fear the devil has dipped your tongue
In a crucible of lies,
But truth will out when I have you hung
And I peer in your lying eyes! '
‘Good Sir, I beg your indulgence
For the door, it was ajar,
I had no need of a key, I heard
My Lady scream, afar,
It echoed down through the passageway
And into the servants hall,
I entered for her protection, Sire,
I sware, and that is all! '
The knight then pulled back the curtains
Of the great four poster bed,
And there was his mistress Carolyn,
His bride, and newly wed,
She clutched the covers about her throat
Her face was pale and white,
He saw that her hands had trembled there
With fear, or else with fright.
‘And what is the truth of this, my dear,
Will you save this lying cur?
Did you really scream at a nightmare scene
Did you leave the door ajar?
I've been a-hunting the grisly boar
But came on back, ahead,
When good Sir Roland excused him there
And the boar was good and dead.'
‘Oh husband, if I could tell you now
I would, upon my life,
I set the lock in my chamber door
As it would a seemly wife,
I heard a sound that had frightened me
But it must have been in sleep,
Whoever opened the chamber door
I thought I heard him creep.'
‘Good sir, it's just as I said, the door
Was unlocked, and opened wide,
Whoever undid the lock, it wasn't I,
I have not lied,
My lady screamed, if it was a dream
I know not, speaking true,
When first I saw it was open, Sire,
I thought it might be you.'
The knight unsheathed his sword, and held
It high above his head,
The servant dropped to his knees, ‘Oh please!
You hold my life in dread! '
‘Methinks that you are the only one
Within my lady's sight,
What did you think to do with her,
Speak now, before I strike! '
‘Oh Sire, I lied for the lady there,
I have no axe to grind,
I saw him who had accosted her
But she didn't seem to mind.'
‘You lie, you blethering peasant troll,
You lie! - take off his head! '
Screamed Carolyn from beneath the sheets
Of the great four poster bed.
A curtain stirred in an alcove then
And a knight came into view,
‘My God, ' said the jilted husband then,
‘Sir Roland, it was you! '
‘I could not watch an innocent man
Be cleft for a sin of mine,
I'd thought to have sweet Carolyn
Before, when you came to dine.'
Sir Roland drew out his burnished sword
And he said, ‘Be on your guard!
If I have to kill you now, I will
Though the killing will be hard.
But stand aside and we both may go
For the sake of friendship past…'
The knight struck out at him in rage
‘That friendship's gone, at last! '
The servant ran from the chamber then
To call the guard at arms,
By the time the two of them ran on back
It was too late for alarms,
Sir Roland lay in a pool of blood
And the knight just stood, and cried,
For Carolyn sat up straight in bed,
But her head lay close beside!
13 February 2013
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